Joan Miró: Painting and Anti–Painting 1927–1937
November 2, 2008–January 12, 2009
Dutch Interior (I) is based on a seventeenth–century painting by Hendrick Martensz Sorgh depicting a lute player in a domestic interior. Miró bought a postcard reproduction of the work at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam a few months prior to beginning his painting. "I had the postcard pinned up on my easel while I painted," Miró reported. In bold, flat colors that rejected the naturalistic modeling and perspective of seventeenth–century Dutch painting, Miró greatly accentuated some elements of Sorgh’s composition, the lute and the man’s head and ruffled collar in particular, while diminishing others.
Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937, November 2, 2008–January 12, 2009
Curator, Anne Umland: This work is one of a series of five paintings that Miró made over the course of the summer of 1928 after a trip to Holland. And this particular painting in fact has its origins in a postcard that Miró bought at the Rijksmuseum of Sorgh's The Lute Player.
Traditionally, seventeenth-century Dutch genre paintings of interiors were scenes that were rendered in a very naturalistic way. Shading, modeling, perspective were all used to construct the illusion that you were looking into a real space. And so then what Miró does is as though to say well, all right, I don't want to construct an illusion. I don't want to make something that convinces you that what I have painted is real.
Miró changes the relative scale of all of the elements in the composition dramatically, so that the head of the lute player has ballooned. And really all that's left of his facial features is this distended red grimacing face at the center with a displaced moustache over to the right. And then if you start looking down looking down his body you realize that the lute has really taken it over. And all that is left of the lute player's figure is one tiny leg that protrudes from the bottom of the lute. And then another has burst through, literally the front of the lute expressing a sort of physical excitement the force of which has actually broken the strings. Miró in this moment basically attacks the human anatomy. So instead of thinking of the body in classical terms as some sort of a ideal of harmonious form, Miró takes it as his project to take it apart.
Conservator, Jim Coddington: Here's an example where we see his extremely facile hand. The edges of all of these forms are very precisely painted with a very fine brush, and it takes almost microscopic examination to see where any of these forms overlap with one another. His hand is steady and firm as he works around all of these edges.
These paints are very much straight out of the tube. He doesn't mix them on his palette, and he does not mix them on the canvas. So the greens and the whites and the oranges and the reds and the yellows are all very much pure tube colors. And so, he paints them out in these flat planes, and then as these planes butt up against one another, he very precisely draws these lines in paint, with the extreme facility and care that is characteristic of these particular works in this room.